Monthly Archives: September 2015

Playing with Fire: Why Risk is Good for Kids

I’m back after a lovely, non-computer time this summer. We spent a lot of our time playing and traveling, including camping and playing with fire. OK, I don’t have tots anymore. My youngest is seven, and that’s a wonderful age … Continue reading

Posted in Parenting with Renegade Rules | Tagged , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

8 Responses to Playing with Fire: Why Risk is Good for Kids

  1. Jan Waters says:

    Heather, again you are right on. I remember letting my grandkids light a whole box of matches while I watched and then blow out the candle. We have campfires a lot in my backyard and I let the kids play and poke. One granddaughter said she was doing experiments. Risk taking is so important to educating. Its fun to read your wriing what I’ve always believed. Jan

  2. Lydia says:

    I totally agree! I have so many happy memories from my own childhood, of fire building.
    I love the sound of your new book too, my daughter is a slide climber upper! ?

  3. Fire building is a terrific way to teach safety and risk. I started making campfires under the watchful, expert eye of my mother the first year we went family camping. I was 10. A child needs to feel the intense heat from a small fire, feel the burn when he touches a seeming harmless point of a stick that’s been poking in red-hot coals, and see how fast a small fire can flare up when the damp wood has finally dried enough to really blaze away.

    My not so foolish risky behavior is taking solo wilderness canoe trips in my late 50s (and hope to do so well into my 60s). But I’m experienced, cautious, and never bite off more of a trip than I can chew. The main risks are Mother Nature nailing me with a bolt of lightning or a strong wind blowing a tree down onto my tent while I sleep. Capsizing in the middle of a large lake during high winds is a good example of mindless, intentionally foolish behavior. I’ll arrive home a day late if necessary rather than risk paddling across a whitecap filled lake by myself.

    Glad you brought up the topic of teaching kids to take risks. It’s an important topic too often ignored in the age of helicopter parenting when parents seek to eliminate all risks for their children.

    Chris

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Happy canoeing, Chris! And so glad your early campfire burning days have continued to serve you well. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Anna says:

    I agree! My son is only three, so as yet I’ve only let him throw twigs on the campfire, but more soon, hopefully. I do, however, let him cook his own oatmeal on our gas stove in the morning. He does great and he’s very cautious. I read a very helpful suggestion a while ago that when teaching a child to use the stove, you should have them actually use their hand to feel different distances from the flame to figure out what’s safe and what isn’t, and I found it to be great advice.

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Great tip about stoves! Sounds as if you and your son will have many fine adventures ahead. Thanks for sharing your story.